Syria Daily, March 15: Assad’s Cousin is Killed — But Did He Die in Battle or in a Local Feud?

PHOTO: Claimed image of Mohammad al-Assad (left) with President Assad



Developing: Kerry’s Ambiguous Statement — Is US Preparing to Accept Assad’s Stay in Power?
Eulogy for a Jordanian Taxi Driver — One of Assad’s 1000s of Torture Victims

For three days, rumors have circulated about the death of Muhammad Tawfiq al-Assad, a well-known cousin of the President. His demise seemed near-certain, but the circumstances were unclear: was he killed fighting rebels or did he meet his end in a local feud in Qardaha — the ancestral Assad home — in western Syria?

Muhammad al-Assad, 48, was the grandson of Ismail al-Assad, a half-brother of the late Hafez al-Assad — the predecessor and father of the current President. He had a local reputation for making a fortune out of smuggling.

His supporters claim that he was killed on Thursday in the battle for Dourin and the nearby Mount Dourin, strategic points in northern Latakia Province which have changed hands several times in the Syrian conflict. Regime forces took the area, near rebel-held Salma, earlier this month; rebels counter-attacked last week and briefly held both the town and mountain.

See Syria Daily: Rebels Attack in Latakia in West

However, far from being a “shahid” (martyr) as his supporters claim, it appears that Assad suffered a less exalted fate. A local correspondent, writing for Syria Comment, explains:

Alawite sources that I have contacted in Latakia, and one in al-Qardaha itself, all claim he was not. They confirm one story: Shaykh al-Jabal was killed near al-Qardaha by a man named Ali Salhab.

This happened after Shaykh al-Jabal [Assad] had a long night of drinking and partying. Whether or not Ali Salhab was drinking is debated because many said he ambushed Shaykh al-Jabal, then shot him dead.

Assad and his reported attacker had a long history of acrimony. One source said Assad had put Ali Salhab in his personal prison and tortured him. Another said Ali Salhab was motivated by a failed land deal.

Assad’s body was allegedly taken to Dourin to provide him with an honorable death at the battle front.

Syrian State media has yet to acknowledge the death; however, the outlet of its ally, Press TV, has just posted an account that is likely to become the official story:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost another close relative in the war against Takfiri militants operating in the Arab country.

Reports emerged Saturday that Mohammad Tawfiq al-Assad, a cousin of Bashar’s, was killed in fighting with the terrorists in the northwestern city of Latakia.

Reports said Tawfiq, an influential relative of Assad, was killed after suffering injuries in the fighting….

Known as “Sheikh al-Jabal” or “Lord of the Mountain,” Tawfiq was believed to be in his late forties and was regarded as a major leader of the anti-Takfiri fight in Syria.

Regime Continues Airstrikes on Douma Near Damascus, Killing More Civilians

For the third day in a row, heavy regime bombing of Douma near Damascus is being reported.

Claims are circulating of at least 19 people killed and 50 wounded on Sunday.


At least 16 people were slain, including 10 women, in air raids on Friday and Saturday.

The rebel faction Jaish al-Islam, based in Douma, has promised retaliatory rocket attacks on military positions in Damascus, but so far none have been reported.

Related Posts

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. No excuse for failing Syria

    By Anna Neistat, Senior Director of Research at Amnesty International

    I arrived in Syria for the first time almost exactly four years ago. The uprising was under way, and the security forces had fired into peaceful crowds of protesters in the town of Dera’a in the south. Mass arrests were happening in Damascus suburbs and in Homs, where people took to the streets in solidarity with Dera’a residents and with demands similar to those heard at that time throughout the Middle East and North Africa: democracy, human rights, an end to the dictatorship.

    • The Americans and their allies helped the Iraqis by removing Saddam from power, and have been vilified for it ever since. Obama was not going to remove Assad from power and face the same criticism.

      • Indeed, Obama won a Nobel Prize in advance for bringing to the US leadership a “more peaceful” approach to foreign affairs.

        It is too bad that, objectively speaking, his approach has led to a worse disaster than the one created by Bush: more civilians have been killed, and more destruction has been wrought in both countries by Obama’s non-invasion of Syria than Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The key differences are that the WMD Bush was seeking in Iraq were used in Syria; and while going into Iraq made it fertile ground for al-Qaeda, staying out of Syria generated a terrorist group that was even worse than AQ.

        The best part, though, is that Obama’s irony-challenged crew justifies this policy as “not doing stupid shit.”

        • A dead-accurate post from Woody.

          By Menschmaschine’s self-serving reasoning (M has a stake in seeing only Putin and Assad act aggressively), JFK and Truman who made the right moves. For standing up to bad guys rather than backing down (Obama style) they were contemptible neo-cons. The models we should follow Neville Chamberlain and Daladier, like Obama, showed the world “How to Do it Right” at Munich and the direct descendent, Obama, who has shown the world ‘How to Do it Right” in Syria and elsewhere.

          Just say the magic word (Neocon! Neocon!) and shut off all debate, especially when it comes to responding to aggression or genocide, If all aggressive behavior constitutes neo-con behavior, why should that not fit Putin’s behavior in Syria and Iran’s empire seeking aggression and intervention in Syria and elsewhere. Why would the word “neo-con” not be applicable to Khruschev when he attempted to put nukes in Cuba. Yet, by M’s reason, to respond with a real Red LIne, as JFK did would have been neo-con behavior.
          Defenders of 21st century fascism use the word neocon to silence thought the way Joe McCarthy used words like “communist” and “fellow traveler.” Only the stupid fall for it.

          This tendency to reverse actrual reality via propaganda is exactly what George Orwell was satirizing with those “Love is Hate” and
          War is Peace” slogans in his 1984 novel). Currently we are told that rebels in Syria keep bombing themselves, in preference to the regime, with chemical weapons. Today we are told that it was the Ukraininans, not the Russian, who shot down that Dutch airliner, regardless of massive evidence and obvious common sense to the contrary. Today we are told “There are no Russian forces in the Ukraine or Iranian proxies in Syria. The only proxies are Americans even if Obama refuses to arm the rebels with as much as a slingshot or allocates 8 bullets a month. All totalitarian states follow the Goebbels logic in propaganda: “If your lie is big enough and you repeat it often enough you can make people believe any nonsense.” (the Big Lie technique).

          I respect presidents who can learn from mistakes–a notorious incapacity of Obama, now famed for denial, buck passing, dogmatic inflexibility, unending shortsightedness and a penchant for surrounding himself with General Keitel types who repeated tell him what he wants to hear and block the door to alternative advice.

          Unlike President No Learn, JFK never repeated his Bay of Pigs mistakes and did not let Khruschev get away with placing missiles in Cuba. Obama would have been easy prey for Khruchev who move in Cuba was inspired by what he saw in the Bay of Pigs, just as Putin’s move in Cuba was inspired by Obama’s spineless Rose Garden backdown.

          Unlike Obama, Truman stood up to Stalin when the latter tried to take “easy pickings” in Iran, Greece and Turkey,” Obama would have allowed Stalin to do so. Bush made a mistake in his first term but, unlike Obama, reversed course in Iraq and dumped Rumsfields for guys like Petreus. Obama doubles down on mistakes and keeps his dodos.

          • To clarify my definitions: With neocon I mean someone who admires and propagandizes imperialism and war of aggression, in particular with respect to the USA. Imperialism and war of aggression is something that I consider as something bad. And you?

            Now, you excuse that I won’t exegete on every bit of your confused and rambling stream-of-consciousness prose (Clear thinking and neocon ideological leanings seem to be generally incompatible). If you want to discuss something specific, say so. Only some choice morsels:

            -Why would the word “neo-con” not be applicable to Khruschev when he attempted to put nukes in Cuba.

            What stuff are you smoking? It would be neocon if he were to use these weapons for an unprovoked first strike, for which there is zero evidence. In fact, the USA had done exactly the same thing, putting nuclear weapons relatively close to the soviet border (Turkey), before – without the soviet leadership going on such an extremely dangerous rampage. In the solution to the crisis, both the nuclear weapons on Cuba and in Turkey were removed.

            -Unlike Obama, Truman stood up to Stalin when the latter tried to take “easy pickings” in Iran, Greece and Turkey

            Hilarious. That would be the same heroic Truman, that, in faithful continuation of the politics of Roosevelt, handed, well let’s see, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Chechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, eastern Germany, the northern part of Korea as well as chunks of Japan and Finland to good ol’ Uncle Joe? Even though ‘foisted upon’ might describe it better,

            Of course, the neocons at this time were eager fans of the Glorious Soviet Empire. The great libertarian scholar Murray Rothbard writes of one of them:

            “I hated Max Lerner when, in the unforgettable imagery of that hilarious and perceptive work by Dwight Macdonald, Confessions of a Revolutionary, reporter Lerner, advancing through Germany at the end of World War II, leaped from an army jeep to confront an elderly shell-shocked German farming couple, asking them: “Do you feel guilty?” after which he proceeded to a gala banquet with Red Army generals, wolfing down caviar and toasting each other with champagne.”


            -Defenders of 21st century fascism use the word neocon to silence thought the way Joe McCarthy used words like “communist” and “fellow traveler.”

            Uh, I always thought that it is precisely because of its supposed endorsement of imperialism and militarism that fascism is generally considered a Bad Idea (TM). So you want us to say that being against imperialism and war of aggression is fascist?

            As for your political correct disparaging of McCarthy, what exactly is you argument? Do you contend that

            1) Being a communist is not a big deal?

            Well, I would say that being the adherent of an ideology that preaches the total subservience of the individual to the state and in whose name millions have been killed is indeed something of a big deal, but perhaps that is just me

            2) That there were no adherents of communism in the USA at the time?

            Which of course would be nonsense. Of course there were a lot of communists; it was quite the hip thing to be into for the “progressive” intellectual at the time.

            Certainly, the condemnation of communism was extremely hypocritical since only a few short years before Soviet Communism had been hailed as an awesome thing by official propaganda. But that was not McCarthys fault. He stepped on the toes of some powerful interests and was shot down.

            • “Imperialism and war of aggression is something that I consider as something bad. ”

              Indeed. The current leading imperialist country is Iran, which is aiming to re-establish the Empire of Cyrus the Great.

              Putin is trying to get back the former Soviet empire, which seems to me to be like Britain trying to reconquer Kenya.

              The US never had much of an empire — the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Hawaii are about it. Unless you count the continental USA as an empire.

              • Don Cox please never mention the inventor of Human Rights Cyrus the Great as having in common with the skinny emo Santa Clause look a like regime. I said to my Persian pal how embarrassed I am for him and his people to ruled by a bunch of cartoon characters right out of an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.


              Comparing incomparable situation with massive variables, M relies on the argument by analogy fallacy while perpetuating a historical myth–that FDR “gave away” Poland and Eastern Europe as if he had an alternative by then.

              Stalin’s conquest occurred while in alliance against a common enemy so how could we attack him while he was driving back the Nazis for himself (and to our benefit). Is M suggesting we were supposed to intervene to SAVE the Nazis? And if so, how with Berlin in the way plus massive Soviet Armies with far better tanks than the Sherman, artillery and rockets galore. Driving the Third Reich back in Poland automatically meant seizing Poland, and isolating Nazi forces in Hungary, Rumania, etc., at the same time. We’d be faced with a fait accompli no matter what, as FDR knew, so the best he could do at Yalta was to pledge Stalin to hold democratic elections and withdraw afterwards. If we got lucky (unlike) he’d keep those promises. FDR had nothing to lose by trying. With the entire bulk of the Red Army (bigger than ours) we had no realistic military option Would M have suggested a frontal assault? Perhaps he’d drop parachute troops (light infantry) to take on the heavy arms and manpower Stalin could bring to bear.

              By contrast, why should we have yielded to Stalin where we could stop him easily? Stalin hoped to take–cheaply– Greece, Turkey and a nice chunk of Iran if we let him. The first two were beyond his strategic reach but perhaps an untested president would let it happen. Instead Truman turned out to be tough as nails. Truman could think strategically and long term. He knew he could polay Mr. Dithers until it was all over. Iran–directly occupied by small Soviet forces after WW II, could not be held if the USA quickly armed Iran and allied with it from the south.

              In Greece and Turkey, Stalin employed exactly the methods Putin and Iran employed today, arming proxies to do the job and hoping we’d have a president who would let it go. In Syria Obama could have stopped that as easily as Truman stopped Stalin but never made the effort That hesitancy is what inspired Putin to test Obama in the Ukraine.

              To pull it off, Stalin required an hesitant, appeasement oriented finger biter, like Obama–the last type a nation needs in critical situations that call for quick decisions. Once Truman acted, Stalin backed off, knowing how unfavorable his situation would be. In Syria by contrast, a Harvard trained, appeasement oriented lawyer proved himself no match for a Stalin and Khamenei unwilling to play by the same rules Obama learned in the classroom. had this been 1946 Obama’s response to Stalin would have been “Let’s negotiate. That’s the only way to solve a problem.”

              As realists know, Stalin would have pretended to do so while stealing Obama’s shoes, socks and underwear. Obama would have given up the whole enchilada on the cheap and screamed “unfair” afterwards. Stalin would have had a great naval base at Athens on the Mediterranean (enabling advances in Italy and France by strong communist parties). Stalin would haver had perhaps the most secure naval base in the world via possession of the Bosphorus (previously thwarted by Britain), Russia’s long time dream would have become fact. Possessing Turkey and a nice chunk of Iran, Stalin would have been perfectly positions to cut the west off totally from oil and take the Middle East as far as and including the Suez Canal. Afterwards, Stalin would have entrenched to the point of irreversibility–no matter who succeeded Obama. Sound familiar? The dictionary needs a new word to describe what had happened to Turkey, Greece and Iran. Like Syria today, they’d have been “obamaed,” (or should I say “Kerried”).

              • Now I understand that as a neocon you must of course protect your beloved “Big Stick” Roosevelt at all costs, but the assertion that there was somehow no choice but to meekly hand over a vast part of Europe to Stalin is pure and utter nonsense. It is simply that Roosevelt did choose to accomodate Stalin in every way. Why he did do so is not quite clear. Some maintain that he saw a soviet occupied eastern Europe as a useful counterbalance to Britain and France. Others contend that, as incredible as it may sound, he really seriously believed that Stalin would play nice if he was nice to him. Here a quite amazing quote:

                “Bill, I don’t dispute your facts [or] the logic of your reasoning. I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of man. Harry [Hopkins] says he’s not and that he doesn’t want anything but security for his country, and I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.”


                But the reason(s) why he did it is not so important in the end as that he did it and that doing so was absolutely criminal and unnecessary. He simply could have ordered Stalin to accept the pre war borders and Stalin would have had not choice but to obey, given the dependency of the soviet union on allied Lend & Lease deliveries.

                Or he could have moved into eastern europe before Stalin could reach it with a Balkan invasion. This plan, unsurprisingly, was obediently scrapped by Roosevelt when Stalin ordered him to.

                As for Truman: By the time Truman became president, admittedly there was not very much that he could still do to correct the disaster created by Roosevelt in Europe (even though fast acting could have conceivably saved at least middle Germany, Chechia and Slovakia from the soviet grip); but no such excuses can be made for his conduct in the far east. Japan was ready to make peace, with only the condition to be allowed to keep the Tenno as a head of state (which, of course, was later granted anyway). But the US government simply rejected this out of hand: Nothing less than a totally unconditional surrender would do. Since an invasion would have been very costly and the use of the atomic bomb alone was unlikely to persuade Japan to surrender (one has to consider that as murderous as the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, they were no worse than the large scale conventional bombings like the Tokyo fire storm) the help of Stalin was sought.

                Finally, the soviet onslaught brought the wished for unconditional (or at least ambiguously formulated) surrender.

                The consequences:

                The red army occupied the north of Korea, therefore enabling the creation of the new communist state. This is always something to remember when we hear about how bad Kim Jong whatever is: North Korea is a creation of the USA.

                Potentially even more important, the Soviet troops occupying north eastern China allowed the communists under Mao Zedong to establish themselves in their area. Furthermore, large amounts of weapons, both captured japanese and soviet ones, were supplied. It is quite possible, that without this powerful boost for the communists the Chinese civil war would have ended differently.

                So, there is absolutely no excuse for Truman: He slaughtered more than 100.000 people, the vast majority of them civilians, and doomed dozens or maybe even many hundreds of millions to life under communism, simply because in his vainness he imagined that he would lose face when he agreed to a peace proposal that was not entirely unconditional.

            • Menschmaschine learn some history the only reason Truman not save the rest of Eastern Europe is because they were all already occupied by the USSR, Greece was freed by the UK, Turkey was neutral and the Pro-Nazi Shah was replaced with his pro-west son. The Western allies could not save theses countries as they were too busy fighting the Japanese and the South and West of Germany and the West of Austria. By the time of VJ-Day the Soviets all ready controlled all of Eastern Europe but Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia-while communist liberated itself from Germany and the Ustache so were no Soviet troops to control hence why it split three years later. Also did the allies not rescue South Korea from the Dear Leader regime in the North?

              Are you suggesting that the allies in 1946 should of tried to invade all of Eastern Europe? Also I noticed you left out Ukraine in your list of countries handed back to Russia, is because they think Ukraine is part of Russia and no right to be independent?

              • I am most certainly not talking about 1946, what gave you that silly idea? At that time of course it was too late.

                As for Ukraine, it was part of the Soviet Union before 1939 and it would have been impossible from a military point of view to retrieve it without fighting head on against a large part of the red army. But since you desperately try to justify the handing over of all these other countries, which would have been eminently saveable, it is, to put it mildly, a bit weird from you to bring it up in this connection.

      • Oh, our little neocon thug is hurt that there might be some people that are objecting to the wholesale rape and destruction of Iraq at the hand of US “benevolent imperialism”.

        In guess we have to be thankful that in the case of Syria, the US “only” attacked via proxy forces. The damage is bad enough, but not so bad as what the direct US occupation did to Iraq. In one or two years, when the takfiri hordes have been defeated there should be a speedy recovery.

        • Menschmaschine

          Keep your crap and and lies for you.
          Assad with the help of Putin and Khamenei has pulverized syria – with tens of thousands tortured syrians to death, 200,000 dead and more than 10 million refugees.

          You hypocrite – as if you were to argue for human rights here. Can`t remember that you have criticed Assad for murdering civilians with barrel bombs and poison gas. So – shut up.

        • Your first paragraph evades the question. I wasn’t even talking about Iraq, where Bush didn’t exactly oust a saint. Yet, as noted Bush had moved well along to addressing the problems and created stability there when he left office. So who undid things in Iraq, now that you’ve introduced that subject?

          1. Al-Maliku, with his persecution of Sunnis, egged on by Iran who wanted to take over Iraq?

          2. Obama the Incompetent, whose pre-mature withdrawal pulled the rug under the anti-ISIS Sunni Awakening.

          3. Obama, the Khamenei toy boy, who allowed Assad and his Russia and Iranian allies to radicalize Sunnis via genocidal crimes and who nursed ISIS back to health and used it as a political tool and ally of convenience for so long.

          • The ousting of Saddam was not so much about WMD or economic interests but of imposing democracy in the region. It seemed that alot of people inside the Bush administration really believed that democracy was the solution of all problems in the region and that they were living in an era in wich democracy was an historical necessity.

            This somewhat messianism is very particular of a segment of the “american” mentality -influenced by their special aproach to religion- . They are determinists and think that any nation that stood in the path of such democratic fulfillment would be swept away, because of this they clash over and over again against any other worldview. The US is a very complicate phenomenon, one in wich a simply material approach is not enough to grasp what lies below the surface.

            • BsAs: I agree that such good intentions were primary, though propagadists like to promote the usual robot-line: “It’s all about oil.” Unfortunately Bush was not realistic given a shia majority and the proximity to Iran which would certainly encourage conflict and sectarian dominance. The tragedy is that the democracy goal was far more do-able in Syrai in 2011-2012 had Obama not fumbled the ball.

  2. only people that seem to care about this guy is EA 😀

    in other news, Kerry says the US will negotiate with Assad, there is a new headline for you

    • oh yeah seems that the iranian deal is almost done, bad times for sunni terrorists in iraq and syria in 2015

      • America had never been with Muslim (sunnis) rebels from the beginning except for lip services like red line, unacceptable etc etc. But u evil shias will never find peace from Muslims (Sunnis). You r getting full support from russian, iraqi, lebanese, afghani and irani evil criminals and now from US but u evil shias will never be able to defeat Muslim (sunnis) Mujahideens. Only thing u evil shias can do is kill women and children.

        This war has just entered 5th year……very very long way to go. Be prepared to be killed like dogs and pigs u shias. 😉 the battle has just begun

        Note that Muslim (sunni) rebels have nothing to loose but u shia evils along with ur evil partners have lots at stake… be prepared.

        • Ahmed summarizes the problem. Thanks to Obama’s strong pro-Iran biases, which run contrary to the public and congress, this war will last decades. Sunnis must never surrender to the Syrian Hitler and his fascist allies. All countries who supported Assad must suffer and all Sunnis must unite to punish the latter.

          Should Americans be punished for what Obama did? You need to remember this Con Man fooled American voters and Sunnis alike by lying to us about intentions. I, for example, voted for the scumbag. I gave him no such mandate. Obama lied to us by concealment of his intentions. No one had a clue he’d be like this. Remember he fooled Sunnis as well who expected much of him. Does that make Sunnis culpable. No! He fooled them like he fooled us. The scumbag plans to use the UN to evade Congress and thereby prevent the next president for cancelling his pro-Iran giveaway treaty.

          The guilty are Obama and his in crowd. Punish them, not us. I’m sure the next president, regardless of party, will scorn Obama as Brits scorned Churchill. Instead of creating a legacy to be admired, Obama has destroyed it. The problem for the next president is going to be “How much of that destruction can be reversed?” Via the UN, the guy is already scheming to set his traitorous giveaways in cement.

          • Obama probably fooled himself. He thought a nice guy who was not a WASP could make peace both with and between the warring factions of the Middle East. He thought all he had to do was the opposite of what Bush did.

            The result is that nobody trusts him, because he is not supporting their faction against the other factions. The end result is that there have been more deaths in Syria during Obama’s presidency than in Iraq during the Bush presidency. Assad must take the main blame, but Obama has not helped.

            • That’s the problem for Obama’s administration in every conflict. They are idealist. In Ukraine they didn’t want to give intel on Russian artillery positions just beyond the border to the Ukranians as not to ‘escalate’.In reality this caused the loss of 2 Ukr batallions (complete wipeout),making it easier for the Russians to advance (escalate).

          • This is just sectarian commentary which is what is causing the conflict to begin with. Shias vs Sunnis. It will just go around in circles like a merry go round.

  3. State TV in Syria is salivating over Kerry’s latest Neville Chamberain speech.

    Having sold out allies and Syrians alike in the early chemical weapons deal (a Kerry brainstorm) the pair now want to negotiate with Assad (i.e., reward his genocidal tactics and inspire others to use similar tactics).

    Face it, both Obama and Kerry would have licked Hitler’s shoes in their time. Had they had held their present offices when Khruschev tried to sneak missiles into Cuba, instead of JFK’s Red Line, the spineless ones would have offered “to negotiate.” For fascist dictators everywhere, the pair continues to be “the gift that keeps on giving.” The Awful Duo could have prevented radicalism, sectarianism and the Ukraine invasion simply by jumping off the Empire State building in 2012 rather than stinking up the joint ever since.

    If they had, we’d not be seeing what we are seeing in the Ukraine, Syria and the Middle East today. Assad would be long gone. ISIS would be nowhere. Iran’s imperial dream would be over, instread of gaining in leaps and bounds. Putin would never have dared attack the Ukraine if not for a Neville Chamberlain style president.

    The pair lies when they insist we have “no choice” but to negotiate with genocidal thugs, operating outside their own country, hated by locals and with no support base for asymmetrical warfare among the locals. The Bad Guys wouldn’t last a month in Syria if Obama and Kerry elected to use the power available to them. If relative strength were reversed, do you think Putin, Khamenei or Assad would have hesitated for a minute to take strong action.

    We could finish off Assad in no time and therey undermine Iran’s imperial ambitions fast without needing war with Iran.


    #1. An ISIS member has posted his own map of Aleppo province

    #2: Business Insider mocks idea that Putin staged a temporary disappearance

    It’s also suggestive that there is so much infighting among Kremlin factions regarding the #2 spot, held by Medvedev. Consider what that suggests.

    #3: Putin: Russia prepared raising nuclear readiness over Crimea

  5. Is this the same Mohamed Assad killed in 2012? Or is he a different cousin killed who has the same name? I sware I read a storry in 2012/13 about a Mohammed Assad being killed in a shootout in Qardha.

    • Niall: You did read something like that and so did I. It was an Assad nephew but I’m not sure the name was the same. I think it happened during the first rebel offensive in Latakia when the regime was caught by surprise. Who remembers a name over two years unless it was constantly in the news? Not me. I have trouble remembering names a minute after someone gives them.

  6. I am somewhat reluctant to comment here as contributions seem to get lost in the constant flaming. But, on the assumption that Prof. Lucas still looks at the comments, I thought that EAWV should know about and cover the report issued by the Syrian Centre for Policy Research with the assistance of the United Nations. The report estimates the economic cost of the Syrian conflict at $202.6 billion. The Syrian population is down to 17.65 million due to war-related migration. War dead is calculated at 210,000. Life expectancy has dropped by 20 years. The government’s trade and budget deficits have soared. The report is full of interesting and horrific facts about the cost of the war.

    One statistic in particular caught my eye. In all of the war reporting, you rarely hear any discussion of the total number of war wounded. The SCPR report pegs the total wounded at 840,000 through the end of 2014. This is not an actual count, but a calculation based on a 1:4 ratio of dead/ wounded. A 1:4 ratio is not unreasonable, but I question whether it can be applied uniformly over the war from 2011-2014. As hospitals are destroyed and doctors killed or driven out of the country, the ratio would be expected to drop, as more wounded civilians die from those wounds.

    • Your stats seem reasonable. I still maintain that if Obama had acted more like Truman in 1945-46 and less like Chamberlain in 1938 at Munich, most of this death, destruction, radicalization and sectarian conflict could have been nicked in the bud.

      In 1938 nany German generals hated Hitler and wanted him gone. They detested the way he had framed an earlier top general and driven him to suicide. They also feared a war on two fronts, complete with WW I-style horrors. A few days prior to Munich their envoys contacted the British and French governments and promised to overthrow Hitler if the West stood firm at Munich.

      Stalin also pleaded with the Chamberlain and Deladier (whose reasoning closely resembles Obama’s) to stand firm. Afterwards he saw the “betrayal” as an effort to turn Hitler eastward, knowing the latter’s penchant for “anti-Bolshevik rehetoric and Hitler’s talk of “living space to the east.” The appeasement at Munich played a major part in Stalin’s decision to agree to a non-aggression pact in late August of 1939. Knowing he would not face a two front war, Hitler was now in a position to invade Poland and call the bluff of France and England.

      I have no doubt Obama’s Red Line Back Down played a major part in an opportunistic decision by Putin to invade the Ukraine–another case of appeasement creating havoc it was meant to prevent. I doubt that invasion would have happened otherwise. This is why the Soviets always preferred a Reagan to an Obama, a Carter or Dukakis who give off confusing signals and then complain when you act.

    • David,

      Thank you so much. I am planning to feature the report this week.

      Please do continue to bring in information.


      • You’re welcome Professor Lucas. One other interesting tidbit in this report: Despite the collapsing economy and dislocated, impoverished population, private investment in Syria actually experienced a slight increase in 2014. The report doesn’t delve very deeply into this statistic, but last week, as you may have seen, NOW News had an outstanding piece on Iranian long-term strategy in Syria. Part of that strategy is to invest in local businesses. Through direct economic investment, state-to-state aid, and the nurturing of autonomous militias, Iran creates a multiple levels of dependency, and thus loyalty to Iran. I wonder if the increase in private investment reported by the SCPR reflects the Iranian investment discussed in the NOW piece.


    Under “Honest” Obama’s the White House is becoming notorious for the sort of dirty tricks we haven’t seen on this scale since Nixon. Past targets included Petreus and Tea Party members investigated by the IRS. Obama himself always disclaims involvement but seems to encourage such stunts. Obama is ticked at Petreus and Hillary for disagreeing with his strong support for Iran.

    The e-mail scandal was timed to come out just as Hillary was on the verge of formally announcing that she was running for president — and that there’s more to come. Clintons are furious.

    In addition, at Jarrett’s behest, the State Department was ordered to launch a series of investigations into Hillary’s conduct at Foggy Bottom, including the use of her expense account, the disbursement of funds, her contact with foreign leaders and her possible collusion with the Clinton Foundation.

    If she gets into the White House, they believe she will compromise with the Republicans in Congress and undo Obama’s legacy. They are also pushing Elizabeth Warren to run against her.


    Levant Front claims to have taken control of al-Qarmel village & Ghurnata fields in Fafin area in Aleppo after heavy clashes with ISIS–Paradoxy

    This area appears to be reasonably close to Sayfat to the West and not far from regime controlled Shiek Najjar.

    Rebels also advanced in Zarka area (E.Qalamoun) vs Daesh/ISIS today.–Kaj Metz

    Jaish al Usud al Sharqia announces that they have captured the Al Mahrusa area (wherever that is) from ISIS

    Very heavy clashes between the regime and rebels are reported at Kweries Airport.–Independent Journal.


    Senior Iraqi official to me: “Iran has been biting chunks off the region without teeth. Now Obama wants to give them teeth?”–Ali Khedery


    Israel’s former ambassador to Russia: ‘There are signs of a coup’

    Zvi Magen believes army factions or wealthy businessmen could be behind President Vladimir Putin’s disappearance.


    LAFA mourns death of pro-Assad Liwa al-Imam al-Hussein military commander Ali al-Naddawi aka Kathem al-Jawad–Parodoxy


    All causes cited by the article are factual but the writer misses the most important thing: If Europe had a winner-take-all plurality sytem in which each office was elected independently, fringe parties would get nowhere.

  8. So lets count how many Assads have been killed in the war
    1] the guy killed yesterday
    2] Bro in law Shawkat blown up with three other members of the crises cell
    3] Cousin Hilal Assad blown up in Latatikia
    4] tow more cousin were killed shortly after Hilal
    5] see above
    6] a cousin killed in a shootout in Qardah in 2012/13
    7] a Maklhouf Cousin committed suicide when rebels attacked his house.
    Also Maher has lost a leg, his sister and mum have fled and Hafez Makhlouf and his brother one of the Maklouf twins went with him. (say hi to Uncle Rifaat for Bashar won’t you)
    So that’s 7 dead, four gone 11 fewer in Syria.
    Still got cousins Rami and the other twin and the cousin that tortured the school boys in Derra sparking the revolution and uncle Mohamed Makhlouf plus the happy couple of Asshead and his Mrs.


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